Achieving energy efficiency for small and mid-sized manufacturers

During Plant Engineering's May 15 webcast, Ethan Rogers, a senior program manager for industry at ACEEE, discussed practical ways small and mid-sized manufacturers can implement energy efficiency programs.


Small and medium-size manufacturers compose about 90% of manufacturing establishments and use only 50% of the PLE1405_WEB_May 15 Webcast_Publish May 15_v2energy consumed by industry. But these facilities also pay higher energy prices, so savings add up to a larger percentage of facility costs. As a result, several efficiency programs now offer a suite of programs targeting this business sector.

Ethan Rogers, who directs the industrial program for the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), was the guest presenter at Plant Engineering’s May 15 Webcast, “Achieving Energy Efficiency for Small and Mid-Sized Manufacturers.” The Webcast, sponsored by Atlas Copco, Caterpillar, Kaeser Compressors and Siemens, can be viewed on demand starting May 21 by going to and registering. 

During his presentation, Rogers cited five types of energy efficiency programs available to manufacturers: They include:

1. Prescriptive incentives are technology specific, but they may not be universally applicable. Prescriptive rebate programs provide rebates for specific products that have been determines to be more efficient than an industry average.

2. Custom/process efficiency is facility-specific, but they may present an inconsistent assessment of data. These programs are intended for non-routine and complex projects such as production line upgrades, new construction, and heat recovery systems. These types of programs require an upfront and post analysis.

3. Strategic energy management programs are systematic, but they can be difficult to mesh with program funding. They generally build energy tracking performance and reporting into corporate systems. This type of program establishes a baseline that enables later validation of savings from all programs.

4. Market transformation programs are scattered, small, and amorphous, but they lack supply-chain and vendor orientation. These programs encourage the market to develop and produce more efficient products.

5. Self-direct options are flexible and conceptually popular with customers, but users may overlook other opportunities. They are intended for customers that can not use conventional prescriptive and custom programs.

Rogers noted that some of the challenges of SMMs face are capital constraints, lack of knowledge in the energy field, and a lack of access to industry associations and resources. Successful energy efficiency programs include prescriptive rebates, custom rebates, financing programs, and workshops/informational sessions with the staff. SMMs have unique challenges implementing energy efficiency, and overcoming these challenges is important to the companies and to the efficiency programs.

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